I have always been a cat person.
I find their independence admirable, their insouciance contagious, their aloofness refreshing in a high-modernist kind of way. In college, I came to think of living with a cat like reading a few pages of Joyce: neither cared if I understood, only that I appreciated. In talking with my dog-people friends, I would say that it takes little to earn a dog’s love (and to prove this, I raised and trained two Rottweilers), but that cats love only grudgingly, if at all. Some dogs, like Goldens, regard even strangers with borderline-sycophancy, while most cats muster armed neutrality at best.
So I have always been a cat person. Yet, this morning I said goodbye to my cat and do not expect to see her again. When my wife and I sold our house, the buyer, a good friend of ours who works a lot overseas, asked if he could take our cat with him. “Are you asking if our cat conveys?” my wife asked. He was. And after we talked about it, my wife and I decided that it wasn’t such a bad idea.
Since we brought our newborn daughter home from the hospital nearly a year ago, our cat hasn’t been right. We had been living together for about five years, the cat, my wife and me, and we had certain understandings.
First, we did not ‘own’ our cat, and she was not ‘our baby.’ She had a name and a nickname, Savannah and Kitohn (/KEE thone/ with an aspirated th) respectively. We would feed her and give her occasional praise. She would rub her furry body against our legs, nap at the foot of our bed for an hour or so each night (longer in the winter) and not pee on our rugs. She wasn’t a member of our family, but was a member of our household and we were no more her masters than her parents. But we were also not her servants.
Then, when the child came home, Savannah kind of lost it. It started with peeing in inappropriate places. She graduated to vomiting. Our veterinarian, an unnecessarily attractive Cuban man with graying hair and a bright smile, said “There is too much stress in her life. You should not force her into so many beauty pageants.” He pronounced the word “estress.”
So when our buyer said that he would give Savannah a life of travel and all the excitement a declawed, indoor cat could handle, my wife and I acceded. And today the buyer will come by and take Savannah to her next home even as my wife and I pack up our things and move to our next home.
I’m a little sad to see Savannah go. When I left roommates in college, even ones whose company I was happy to quit, I always wondered what would become of them. And I do wonder what Savannah will do or see. After all, I have been paying for her health insurance (yes, my cat has health insurance) for five years. I care for her. But today I left her for what may be the last time.